With no previous knowledge of the ubiquitous chai tea in India, Janet and Len Wheeler from Australia were in for a pleasant treat on their recent Enchanting Travels experience in North India. Their driver stopped at a chai wallah (a street tea barista of sorts), for that much loved tea break. What is it about masala chai tea that Indians and visitors love? Janet shares her experiences of India’s steaming, aromatic, spicy and refreshing masala chai tea!
“Recently we visited India, spending most of our time in Rajasthan and the surrounding areas. For 20 days we had the same driver, Raghnav Pandey, whom we called ‘RP’. He not only guided us safely through Indian cities, traffic jams and the countryside, but also introduced us to another side of India – ‘masala chai tea’.
We had tried masala chai tea in Southern India a few years ago, just once, and were not big fans of the brew.
On one particularly long hot day during this trip, RP stopped the car outside a roadside cafe, located in the middle of nowhere, without another soul in sight.
He opened the car doors and escorted us over to the outside kitchen and ordered three sweet masala chai teas for us. Not wanting to offend RP, we didn’t say a word but keenly watched the chai making process of boiling buffalo milk till it almost boiled over…tossing in ginger, pepper and tea, simmering the brew for a few minutes, and then re-boiling the tea once again till it almost boiled over once more! It was then poured into small paper cups which we juggled from hand to hand being so hot.
The chai tea was beautiful, so flavorsome and refreshing….we were now converts.
Each day thereafter, once or maybe even twice a day RP would pull off the road and announce, “chai time.”
Every chai was different and sometimes served in small china cups which were easier to handle.
After each stop we would compare flavor and cost with RP, and often got into conversations with locals who would appear from nowhere. One such stop was near a school, and I swear, every child from the school came out to see us!
This was one of many unexpected surprises we experienced during our wonderful trip…never once in all our chai stops did we encounter other tourists, so we felt rather special. Not once did we ever feel threatened.
We feel honored having experienced the masala chai tea ritual and thank our driver RP and Enchanting Travels for allowing us to share in this wonderful daily local ritual, one we will always remember.”
There’s really no home in India that does not commence the day with a steaming cup of that aromatic and spicy kadak (strong) masala chai tea. A dose will even jolt you back to reality from that afternoon siesta mood!
So, if you are ready to be charmed by the street chai vendor and follow the trail of his fragrant yet strong chai brew wafting through the air, then head to India for an invigorating cuppa.
Read more about masala tea in India.
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